Sunday, January 24, 2016


I love the Oscars. I love the trivia -- like the movie which has the most nominations but no wins.* I love the controversies -- whether it's Luise Rainer vs. Carole Lombard (Best Actress, 1937)** or Robert Redford vs. Martin Scorsese (Best Director, 1980)†. I love the awards show itself, with the dresses and the speeches and the bad musical numbers.

Most of all, I love the movies. Nominate a film and I'll be there, buying a ticket. I want to see as many as I can before the show so I can be an informed viewer.

That's why I'm so bummed that I really haven't liked two of this year's big Oscar movies. And I'm not even sure I know why.

The Big Short. It's uniformly well acted. (Especially nominee Christian Bale, who seems to be wonderful in everything I've seen him in.) Some moments are unexpectedly funny. (Selena Gomez' cameo.) And I couldn't wait for it to be over. I was bored out of my fucking mind.

Carol. I'm crazy about director Todd Haymes. His movies are beautiful and lush and lovingly made. The big emotions and drama in the lives of his women characters are uniformly handled with respect so they don't sink into camp. All that is true for Carol. Yet I was disappointed. Unlike his wonderful Far From Heaven, there wasn't a single character in this movie I understood, or even liked.

So I'm kinda bummed.

Thank God for Spotlight. It's the much-nominated film that didn't disappoint. Like The Big Short, I knew how this story was going to end. And yet I was still riveted. It had a real impact on me. My mind keeps going back to it. Those final visuals -- white type against a black screen representing literally millions of young victims of sexual abuse at the hands of priests -- still hit me like a punch to the gut. And there's the universal pain of disillusionment. These Boston Globe reporters were parochial school boys and a church-going girl. Doing the right thing hurt them. It's powerful stuff. (For some reason, though, this movie causes a brain fart and in conversation I refer to it as "Searchlight.")

* A tie between The Color Purple and The Turning Point

** Oscar got it wrong. Carole Lombard is divine in a classic and Luise Rainer is simply adequate in a forgettable movie

† Oscar got it right. Ordinary People resonates with me so much more than Raging Bull did.

1 comment:

  1. Ordinary People has had a profound impact on me. As I've watched it over the years, I've related to different characters in different ways. When I first started teaching high school English, I taught the novel and showed the film. I loved both.


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